How to Prepare for Your Outdoor Climbing Trip

You’ve been training for months and are feeling strong. Finally, it’s the time you’ve been waiting for: the outdoor climbing trip! Whether you’re a West Coast climber exploring Yosemite, Rocky Mountain National Park, Red Rocks, or an East Coast climber heading to the New River Gorge or the Red River Gorge, this climbing trip is going to be epic!

But, before you get going, you must prepare. Yes, we know the stoke to go is high, but ensuring you have everything prepped and planned out ahead of time will make the experience that much smoother and positive! And don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Read through this article, and you’ll have all the necessary information to ensure you are ready for your outdoor climbing trip.

How to Prepare for Your Outdoor Climbing Trip: A Step-by-Step Guide to Success

Research where you’re going

That is especially important for a climbing area you have never visited. Knowing everything from how to get there, places to stay in the area (Air BnB, campground), and climbing rules and regulations. It’ll also inform you about the best time of year to visit the location and whether or not it’ll likely be busy when you go! The more research you do, the more prepared you’ll be!

Ensure you have a guidebook or Mountain Project info downloaded

Great! You’ve researched how to get there and have an Air BnB booked. Now it’s time to determine what you’ll climb. Guidebooks can get costly but are worth the investment as they give the most detailed information about approaches and a complete list of all known climbs in the area. We recommend going through the Guide Book ahead, so you know what areas you’ll be targeting (most climbing locations have multiple climbing spots within the larger region) based on your climbing ability and preference. Mountain Project is also a great, free tool if a Guide Book is inaccessible. If using Mountain Project, try downloading the information for the specific climbing areas before going out to the crag in case you lose reception!

Ensure you pack all your gear and enough food and water

Climbing is taxing. Now add in hiking into and out of the crag multiple days in a row, and you’ll feel it, especially if it’s your first outdoor trip. Pack multiple water bottles (refillable ideal) and plenty of food to ensure you have enough energy to power through.

Additionally, double-check your gear before you go! Odds are you’ll be hours away from home and unable to get anything you forgot. So make sure you have multiple pairs of climbing shoes, plenty of chalk, and the appropriate gear for the type of climbing you’ll undertake (harness, rope, quickdraws, boulder pads, cams, etc.).

Get a good group of people to go with (ideally including someone with outdoor climbing experience)

In most cases, you will want at least one other person to accompany you on this trip. If you’re sport climbing, one additional climbing partner will suffice; however, you may want more if bouldering (more people equals more crash pads and less weight to carry up the approach yourself).

If this is your first time climbing outside, look to go with someone who has climbed outside, as they’ll be an incredible resource for setting up routes, cleaning routes, navigating trails, and/or placing boulder pads to ensure safety.

Plan ahead

It is beneficial to make an overall game plan for your trip and revisit it each morning before heading out to the crag. Planning also includes packing enough food for the day in correspondence with how long you’ll be out at the crag. Use this time to determine if there is a climb you want to project. If you only have one and a half days with good weather, make it a priority to go there before checking out other climbing areas. Additionally, planning when going with a group allows you to accommodate everyone’s climbing goals!

Check the weather

“I regret checking the weather,” said no one ever. An outdoor climbing trip is just that, outdoor. So, before heading out, make sure you’ve checked the weather to ensure you have good climbing conditions (no rain, not too hot), and so you pack the appropriate climbing attire. Should you bring layers? A big puffy?

Additionally, checking the weather every morning at breakfast is a great habit. Will the UV index be high, and you’ll need sunscreen? Did a surprise thunderstorm move into the area and appear on the weather? Everyone knows the weather is unpredictable, so checking regularly will ensure you pack the right items!

If you can go through these six steps and check off every single item, you’re well-prepared for your outdoor climbing trip. Happy sending, and let us know in the comments below where you went and what you are climbing on your trip!